One of the fundamental cornerstones of Benedictine life is our charism of hospitality. The Rule of Benedict clearly demands that we recognize all people as Christ. I think, in Benedict’s experience, that the monastery was a constant hub of guests.
It is common among my Benedictine friends in other monasteries to joke about how we are never without guests. On any given day we may have visitors, friends, retreatants or family members joining us in prayer and/or meals. Our guest and retreat house, Benet House, is a regular beehive of comings and goings. We are never without guests. Our hospitality extends to sharing our food, our prayer and our spirituality with anyone seeking God.
The past three weeks I have been involved in a major hospitality project involving the board of directors I chair for a home for homeless women and children. Our board has joined a partnership with the Quad Cities’ Just Faith Housing Committee, a parish-based peace and justice program in local churches. We have been viewing many houses that are in foreclosure in hopes of finding one we can purchase, rehab and open for additional transitional housing for women and children. Some financing behind our efforts is a grant from our Monastery. This $20,000 grant must have matching funds but is available for initial investment in a house when we find one.
Well, three weeks ago we found an ideal duplex which we are buying for the exact amount of the grant. We still have to match the funding but the house itself will be paid for. Amazing.
My point is hospitality takes many forms, doesn’t it? There is the welcoming of guests at our monastery, for sure. However, my community has extended their hospitality much further and way beyond the Monastery walls. We recognize Christ is seen most acutely in the faces of women and children who are desperate and lack essential needs. I think of it as our Mother Teresa hospitality. The greatest need is where Christ urges us to be hospitable.
This twist in hospitality is a hallmark of my community. We have shared our resources with many projects across the globe to enhance the lives of people we will never meet. Hospitality at its best, I think.